In this issue
Michael P. Rucker’s first couple of meetings as a member of the board of Geo. H. Rucker Realty Corporation left him wondering what he’d gotten himself into.
Rucker had been badgering his father-in-law, John Jones Sr. (the son of one of Rucker Realty’s founding partners, M. Ashton C. Jones Sr.), for a spot on the board for some time. In 1980 he got his wish, becoming the fourth third-generation board member.
Avoiding liquidity demands
The five third-generation owners and operators of New England Coffee were so successful at growing their company that they had a tough time buying out the previous generation. In 1996, the second generation stepped back from day-to-day management of the Malden, Mass., company, which was founded in 1916 and has annual sales of $90 million. But the second generation still owned the lion’s share of the business until a 2003 buyout.
Unfortunately, when considering the future, many strong family business leaders don’t think “When I die”; they think “If I die.” Because of their denial that death will befall them, they make no plans for what will happen when it does—even though such plans could avoid or alleviate huge financial losses and considerable emotional pain.
The two most predictable consequences of the failure to focus on long-range succession planning are the faltering of a business left without a leader and unhealable injuries to the family resulting from fights over control.
Have you heard about the two brothers from Ohio? The first witnessed the installation of what could be considered the first Internet. He and his brother began working with a venture capitalist and helped pioneer the installation of this new technology across the Midwest.
The brothers’ strategy allowed them to set up communication systems quickly and move on to the next job. Eventually, they diversified into construction materials for the lines and grading of the land to prepare it for installation. Within six years, they had aligned themselves with the giants of the industry.